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February 8, 2015 / oneworld82

24 Hours in Dubai and the Etihad Arrival Lounge (plus Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates)

After landing and disembarking, it was a breeze going through security given my priority landing card. Within minutes I was in the UAE, looking for the Arrival Lounge, which I had only briefly visited back in September.

Express lane for me today!

Express lane for me today!

After entering the lounge, I was greeted by an attendant who checked my limo transportation for me. He confirmed that everything was alright, and asked me whether I was ready to catch my ride. I told him I wanted to take a shower and get a wet shave (my primary reason for visiting the lounge!), to which he said “absolutely”. The lounge, as I wrote back in the summer, is not big, but it doesn’t need to be given that not too many people use it. There was a decent spread of breakfast food/snacks and beverages, and a dedicated attendant for the F&B part.

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I was promptly escorted to one of the shower lounges to get a quick wash up. The room was good-sized, with all the amenities needed to get yourself going after a long flight or before a meeting. While I have seen better shower facilities, this was very good, and clothes pressing was offered (this is absolutely brilliant!). After dressing up, I approached the front desk again and I asked whether I could get a wet shave. The barber was free, and so there I was getting my first wet shave ever. What can I say: it was top notch. The barber was very well trained, and everything – from shaving foam application to the use of hot towels to open up your pores after the shave) was classy and very well executed. My skin never felt more smooth! 🙂

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I then left the lounge and proceeded to the limo desk, where I was promptly assigned a car (a nice Audi) to take me to Dubai. The ride was smooth and in about a hour I reached my destination, the nice (but not spectacular) Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates.

Check in was smooth, and the front desk agent helped me with breaking down some Dirhams I needed to tip around. While the entrance is on the ground floor, the main lobby is on the 5th floor, where the main restaurant is situated as well. From there, another elevator brought me to a high floor to my deluxe room (I had been upgraded).

The room was spacious, modern, luxurious. It had a floor-to-ceiling window with a view over the Burj al-Arab and Downtown Dubai. The bed was king size and very comfortable; the bedroom was ample and had a glass window giving into the bedroom – sexy, contemporary, and elegant. All amenities you expect from a real five star hotel were present.

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After settling down, I took a two hour nap; my original plan was to check the pool out, but it was cloudy in Dubai and not exactly hot, so I opted for my comfortable bed instead. When I woke up I did go check the rooftop pool; I was not particularly impressed by it, but the view from up there was great. Unfortunately, literally two minutes after I set myself onto the sunbed it started raining. Yes, it can rain in Dubai…!

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At that point I just went back to my room, changed, and decided to go do some shopping. After all, that’s why I wanted to stop by in Dubai!

I started from the Mall of The Emirates, once the crown jewel of Dubai but then readily supplanted by the Dubai Mall. It still is a great Mall though, even though the mix of high end and low end stores is quite confusing. What I like of it, though, is that it has a Carrefour supermarket in its basement, so I headed there first to get myself a snack. While I LOVE Middle Eastern food, one of my favorite dishes is Manakeesh – a flatbread topped with either zaatar (an oregano and salt mix) and/or cheese. This stuff is seriously delicious!

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After eating my snack I decided to try the Dubai metro and to head to the Dubai Mall – by far my favorite Mall in the World. I walked the walkway to the metro entrance – it took about ten minutes overall. The process to buy a ticket through the automatic machines is straightforward, and within minutes I was waiting for my train.

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The coaches of the subway (which is entirely over the ground) are new and modern; A/C worked well, and inside it wasn’t overly cold like it regularly happens elsewhere in the World – say in Bangkok. It was rather crowded, mostly with tourists and Indian white collars commuting back home. The ride to the Dubai Mall took about 15 minutes. From the station there to the Mall there is a long, modern, covered walkway about one kilometer long. Another engineering marvel in a city that made wonders normality.

The Dubai Mall is – simply put – astonishing. Everything about it is over the top: the size, the array of shops and brands, the number of brands represented, its aquarium tank (the biggest in the World). I could easily spend a day each time in this Mall, because I love shopping and because it is just a fun place to be! Teenagers and families alike ply the place – the perfect refuge during the scorching summer months.

I ended up spending the best part of the afternoon in the Mall, visiting Costa Coffee for a latte and Laduree for some macarons, and buying a nice jacket at Massimo Dutti.

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What I like about this Mall is also the fact that it is located in Downtown Dubai. The setting of the area – from the Burj Khalifa to the Address Hotel to the fountains in front of the Mall – is very well thought-after. Also, a more traditional type of souk (Souk al Bahar) is located across a bridge in front of the Mall. Here jewelry stores, art galleries, and more “traditional” shops selling trinkets and sweets (like yummy dates) can be found. I bought myself some nice stuffed dates (you HAVE to try dates while in the Middle East!) and a couple of art pieces at one of the galleries in the souk, before heading to Zahr El-Laymoun, an excellent Lebanese Restaurant with a great outdoor patio perfect to enjoy a Middle Eastern dinner and smoke some narghile; I had some foul medames and a couple of kibbeh – both dishes were excellent to say the least. If you do not fancy Lebanese food, the Souk boasts many restaurants and cafes – there’s definitely something for everyone!

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After dinner I made my way back to the hotel via the Dubai metro, and in about half a hour I was back at my hotel. While it was an overall short visit, I enjoyed it very much. For some reason, I love Dubai and its pretentious appearance. I love the glitz and the glamour of the place. For some reason, I see myself living here someday.

Before going to bed, I went to check out the gym on the hotel’s top floor; nice views of the city and decent equipment helped me work out before taking a bath and getting ready to bed. My Etihad First Class flight back home was nearing – and I was very excited about it!

P.S.

– If you have never been in Dubai, I suggest you do a desert tour to experience this incredible landscape. Also, Dubai is sprawling and has many different things to offer: from traditional souks to well-manicured beaches, from World class shopping to luxurious resorts, you will find it all here.

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